Friday, July 3, 2015

What I'm Playing

Hey look, a short-ish post!
While I wait for Witcher the 3rd to go on sale (I'm sorry, 10% is not a real sale in my book), I'm currently playing two games from the Summer Steam sale.  The beautiful platformer Ori and the Blind Forest, and the college freshmen simulator/adventure game Life is Strange.

What I can say about Ori and the Blind Forest is that I initially thought the game had blown its aesthetic and emotional wad in the first few scenes, and shown me everything it had to offer. I didn't think my interest would stick after getting into the actual game.  However, every time I come back to it, I can't get away from how much fun it is to watch this little guy scamper around.

The game is very Zelda/Metroid-esque in hiding sequentially powerful upgrades all over the place. I've played a million games like this, but none of them look like this.  The only way that I can describe the animation is: "joyful."  Another interesting feature is that saving your game is integrated into the gameplay. Although there are regular checkpoints as well, you can also save in the middle of a level if you expend a little bit of one of your energy resources. Energy is also used to open certain locked doors, and to use certain attacks.  Tying a gameplay focused resource to an optional save feature is honestly a brilliant idea, especially in a game as challenging as this one.  It makes for lots of interesting decisions.

The other game, Life Is Strange, is an adventure-ish game in which the main character, Max, is a 19-year-old girl with the power of to reverse time at will. Off to a great start.  I was a transfer student, so I never got that freshman year in the dorms. Also I'm not female. So this game offers some interesting social perspectives, in addition to the time travel.

The game seems to be about toying with reality and undoing decisions that you don't like, in an interesting inversion of the typical consequence-focused adventure game such as the Telltale Games, which seem to discourage you from "rewinding" so to speak and undoing your decisions.  My assumption is that they feel the mystery of not knowing what would've happened if you made the other choice tends to give your decisions much more weight, but here, the game encourages you to try to cheat, weaseling out of bad situations, orchestrating good ones, and gathering every piece of information before you commit to a choice.  

In Life Is Strange, you can literally rewind a conversation you didn't like and redo it, entirely within the fiction of the game.  You can do something crazy and piss someone off, and then un-piss them off.  It feels a little sacrilegious at first, but really, it's tons of fun.  I'm excited to see how they toy with this later in the game.  And the writing seems pretty good.  There are some hefty allusions to the Butterfly Effect, as you'll see from the video...


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